Renato Muccillo

Renato Muccillo
The first thing that struck me about the paintings of Canadian artist Renato Muccillo was his wonderfully subtle sense of value, as well as the range of expression he achieves with an understated use of color.

Though some of his compositions are dramatically lit, with dynamic cloud formations portrayed in a full range of values, most are subdued, with their value contrasts and color range carefully controlled.

Many of his works are scenes in which still, reflective water evokes a feeling of quiet and contemplation, sometimes with a simplicity that recalls the 19th century Luminists. He employs atmospheric perspective to give some of this works distinct planes of depth, and in others revels in the textures of his subjects, the soft edges of which are suggestionve of Tonalists like Inness.

In addition to the range of value relationships, there is an interesting range of scale at which he works. Though some of his studio pieces are fairly large, perhaps 30×30 inches (76x76cm), others are much smaller than they may first appear, attesting to Muccillo’s ability to use suggestion, and let your eye fill in detail. The four paintings above, bottom, are less then 8 inches (20cm) wide, the bottommost only 3×3 inches (8x8cm).

You will find on his website galleries of new works and archives, and one of miniatures. You can find additional work on the websites of Howard Mandville Galleries (also here), and White Rock Gallery. The latter has a short documentary video on the artist and his techniques. There is also an article about Muccillo on Southwest Art.


Eye Candy for Today: Boucher’s Madame Bergeret

Madame Bergeret, Francois Boucher
Madame Bergeret, François Boucher

On Google Art Project. Downloadable high-resolution version on Wikimedia Commons. Original is in the National Gallery of Art, D.C.

I think Boucher’s middle name was “Eye Candy” (or perhaps “friandise visuelle”). Many of his paintings were such calculatedly overt bonbons that you just have to give in and enjoy without worrying about critical assessment.


Óscar T. Pérez

Oscar T. Perez
In addition to his editorial illustration for magazines and newspapers, Spanish illustrator Óscar T. Pérez has illustrated a number of books, many of which are new versions of classics by authors like Dickens, Chekhov, Hans Christian Andersen and Mark Twain.

Pérez has a nicely stylized and beautifully textural approach, in which he employs muted color and value ranges to give his illustrations an inviting, contemplative quality.

Though his blog is in Spanish, the images are of course without language barriers. You can also find examples of his work on the sites of his artists’ representatives, HelfinReps and Killington Arts. There is an animated promo for his work on YouTube.


Rijksmuseum’s selection for US President’s visit

Rijksmuseum's selection for US President's visit:  Johnnes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Jan Havicksz Steen, Bartholomeus van Bassen, Jan Havicksz Steen, Rembrandt
The current President of the United States is visiting the Netherlands (I’m reluctant to even mention his name, lest it bring out of the woodwork the internet trolls who feel that any mention of his name is a call to arms to use the comments section to decry how the Affordable Care Act marks the end of liberty as we know it, etc., etc., etc. — sigh).

At any rate, the President (you know which one) is there to attend a Nuclear Security Summit, but has taken a side tour to visit the Rijksmuseum and its world-renowned collection of Dutch art and artifacts.

The museum has taken advantage of the PR event and photo-op, and also published on its website images of a group of paintings that were the focus of the tour given the visiting President.

I don’t think they are indicative of the President’s taste in painting (I’ve never heard mention of him being particularly interested in art); I think he was actually there to view a historical document called the Act of Abjuration, on which the U.S. Declaration of Independence was in part based.

However, he was given a tour of the museum and I find it more interesting to see which pieces out of the Rijksmuseum’s superb collection the directors thought suitable for a Presidential visit.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a written description of the reasons for their choices. Some are obvious, of course, and come under the heading of the museum’s “greatest hits” — and one seems related to the signing of an official document by a legislative body, perhaps the document in question.

The choice of the street scene with the Mayor of Delft and the raucous family gathering, both by Jan Havickszs Steen, are more of a mystery to me.

You can click on any of the images in their feature to go to the large, zoomable versions, which can be downloaded (like any of their other high-res images) if you register for a free RijksStudio account (see my 2012 post on the New Rijksmuseum website).

(Images above, with detail crops: Johnnes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Jan Havicksz Steen, Bartholomeus van Bassen, Jan Havicksz Steen, Rembrandt)


Eduardo Pena

Eduardo Pena
Singapore based concept and visual development artist Eduardo Pena has an ability to give his digital paintings an unusually effective feeling of atmosphere and scale.

Even among visual development artists, who often strive to achieve those characteristics in their work, Pena has developed his ability to suggest large scale in his scenes, and to set his subjects in tangible mist and atmospheric distance, to a high degree.

He also has a skill in casting his fantastical subjects in naturalistic light, even in works that are largely monochromatic. Unlike many other visual development artists, Pena does not punctuate his pieces in which there is a controlled color cast with bright passages of complementary colors, but instead maintains a restrained overall palette.

He concentrates on creating a more subtle overall composition, within which his dramatic scenes unfold as though you were just gradually noticing that something amazing was going on.

In addition to his galleries on CGHub, Pena has a blog, though it is relatively brief.


William McGregor Paxton

William McGregor Paxton
Like many American painters who started their careers in the late 19th century, William McGregor Paxton began his studies in the U.S. — in his case at the Cowles Art School, where he studied with Dennis Miller Bunker — but traveled to Europe to pursue further study. There he attended the Académie Julian and the École Des Beaux-Arts, where his instructors included Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Paxton was a founding member of The Guild of Boston Artists, along with Frank Weston Benson and Edmund Charles Tarbell.

Though I don’t know much about their actual influence on one another, I find comparisons of Paxton and Tarbell particularly interesting. Both were students of Gérôme, both painted exquisite portraits, particularly of women, and both were fascinated with the work of Johannes Vermeer. Both Paxton and Tarbell produced portraits in the context of room interiors infused with soft light that distinctly show the the Delft master’s influence.

Paxton, even more than Tarbell, was noted as a portraitist and for his figurative work. He experimented with degrees of focus and softness of edges in an unusual way, partly out if his study of Vermeer’s method and use of optical devices.

Though he was not known for still life, I particularly like Paxton’s handling of vases, jars and other still life objects within his room interiors. William Paxton was married to painter Elizabeth Okie Paxton, who was noted as a still life painter.

The painting, Girl Sweeping (images above, bottom) is here in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, where I have been struck by its quiet beauty on numerous occasions. It’s interesting to compare it to a painting in the Indianapolis Museum of Art in which Paxton took on the same subject.

[Note: some of the images in the resources below should be considered NSFW.]